This entry marks two special occasions: my 100th post on musicwithdinner and the first article I have ever had published in an international magazine. When I first started writing musicwithdinner it was partly an attempt to ground myself in my new environment. I had just moved with my then boyfriend and now husband from London, Ontario to Vancouver, BC which meant a new city, new people, a new climate, and a new culinary landscape to explore. I was also without a job for much of the first year away from home, writing in a blog was something that involved the routine and discipline I felt were missing from my life during this period. I have grown to love this little part of the internet that I can call home; for someone who is overjoyed to talk about food during most of their waking hours, and to even further enjoy writing about it as an extension of that passion, this blog has served as something of a sanctuary for all of my meandering thoughts and emotions tied to making food. The music follows easily and obviously, I doubt I have made many meals in the past 20 years that haven’t involved its close ties to the enjoyable task of making food for myself and those I love. I was very recently fortunate enough to be published in Culture magazine’s Summer 2014 issue where I wrote about the cheese tourism scene in and around Vancouver. Many specialty food shops and book stores sell this magazine, a quarterly publication on everything fromage related that will satisfy even the most serious of turophiles.
But onto a happy 100th blog post recipe that will leave you feeling energized and as though you’ve just done something spectacularly healthy and wonderful for your body. This salad is very, very loosely based on the Mala salad served at the Barakat restaurant in London, Ontario which is described on their website as “Fattoush salad with chicken shawarma on the top and your choice of garlic
sauce or cabbage.” This salad is something that I will always miss about London, getting an order to go and eating it on a bench in Victoria Park. This Pink Chicken Salad contains only shades of a true Mala salad but I love to eat it on its own merit. If I am feeling extraordinarily organized on my weekend I will poach or roast chicken to leave as leftovers for the week, but you can always just cook it up as you need it and let it cool slightly before tearing up for the salad. After many experimental versions of this recipe I have settled on the following ingredients as my favourite combination of textures and flavours. Feel free to omit and add as you like; the following would definitely not be amiss in any salad I would eat: hot pickled peppers, tiny sour cornichons, sundried tomatoes in oil, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pita bread broken into small pieces, very thinly sliced red cabbage, extra lemon juice, sliced fennel half moons, roasted sweet peppers, slivered almonds, arugula, etc., etc. The dressing is taken from an amazing dressing recipe on allrecipes.com that I have adapted only slightly from the original (incidentally, it makes a velvety vegetable dip when mixed with enough Greek yogurt to make it a hummus-like consistency.) Make this salad in a large shallow bowl, taking your time to uniformly chop your ingredients and create your salad. It is a meal in and of itself, but I last served it with cheeses, bread and crackers, fresh vegetables, olives, risotto balls, and antipasto as a celebratory supper.
pink chicken salad:
4 cups of spinach, torn
4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 cup of Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade
1 can of artichokes, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, grated
1 beet, left raw and grated
1/2 cucumber, left whole or peeled in stripes and sliced into thin half moons
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cold chicken breasts, leftover roasted or poached and shredded
3 Tbsp. roasted pepitas
Combine all of the ingredients, beginning with the greens and the fresh herbs, in a large shallow bowl. Toss lightly with tongs to combine.
1/2 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic
Blitz together all of the dressing ingredients in a blender until totally smooth. Add the desired amount to the salad and toss again to coat evenly before serving immediately.
This meal was marked by happiness that was bright as yellow, bright as this lovely Innocence Mission song. Almost 10 years ago, when my husband and I lived on opposite sides of the continent, I put this song on a mixed CD for him because it made me feel hopeful for the moment and for the future. I had entirely forgotten about it until it came on randomly while I was cooking that night, it still makes me feel giddily bright and excited about what’s ahead for me.
The Innocence Mission – Bright as Yellow